"Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD" (Exodus 28:30, NIV).
Imagine with me for a moment what it would feel like to be whisked back to the Garden of Eden, Uh, before the serpent slithered in there, of course, and to know as Adam and Eve did, the joy of walking and talking with God in the cool of the day, just as good friends do. They were walking, talking spiritual beings clothed upon with flesh, and the day will come when we see that this is exactly what we are as well. Created in the image and likeness of God, they were indeed, "a chip off the old block," no disrespect intended, Father. Being one with God and fellowshipping with Him daily was nothing special to them because it was all they knew. Then came the day when they ate the forbidden fruit, and as God had said, in that day they surely died (Gen. 2:17). Yes, their flesh was still breathing in and out, but the connectedness to God was lost. To insure that they didn't eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in that wretched state, "He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24, RSV). After that, communing with the Father, which had been a normal occurrence to Adam and Eve, became a very rare experience indeed, on planet Earth.
The instances of God speaking up close and personal to His children, light up the dark and dreary history of His interactions with them, like diamonds on black velvet, beginning with Noah, and continuing with Abraham, and Jacob, and then on to Moses, whose encounters with God flashed upon the night sky like a meteor shower. Not until Jesus left the portals of glory and came to dwell in flesh among us, did God's voice become commonplace among His people again. We've come to equate these manifestations of God in time as the action or indwelling of the Holy Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost, for example, His voice spoke to every man in his own language. On that occasion, Peter said that the things the prophet Joel spoke of were happening before their very eyes: "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:17,18, RSV). To me, the amazing truth affirmed here is that this gift of being filled with the Holy Spirit, which so rarely occurred down through the centuries, had just became the normal Christian experience. Remember, Peter promised, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38, RSV). This Holy Spirit, who had been hidden except to the very select few, was now the gift of God for all believers. "For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."" (Acts 2:39, RSV).
I've observed before, that some of our best writings come from questions or comments by our readers. We had a question last week from a man who wanted to know what it meant to be filled with the Spirit, and it set me on one of my favorite pastimes, digging for buried treasure in the Old Testament. I'd like to share with you some of the golden nuggets I mined, but first, let me include his question:
He wrote, "I'd like to get your thoughts on another question of mine. I've been researching the New Testament with a concordance in an attempt to further my knowledge of the issue of universal salvation. Many times in the New Testament the phrase "he was filled with the Holy Spirit" appears. This could be referring to the apostles or to other men. My thoughts for these men who are "filled with the Holy Spirit" lead me to think that this means the same as the verse which speaks of "Jesus filling all things" and the "restitution of all things." My confusion arises in the people who were described as "filled with the Holy Spirit." Were these people now immortal and incorruptible like God? I thought that "the restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21), and "Jesus filling all things" (Eph. 1:23) meant that all things would then be incorruptible and immortal. I don't know if everyone in the Bible who was described as "being filled with the Holy Spirit" lived a completely incorruptible life afterwards. Anyway, I'd just like to get your thoughts on this one. Let me know when you get a chance. Thanks, Jack" (not his real name). End Quote.
In contemplating his questions, the first thing that the Lord reminded me of, were the men whom God filled with His Spirit to do the work on the tabernacle. I woke up in the middle of the night, got up out of bed, and started my treasure hunt for these workers who were filled with the Spirit for a specific task. Here's the first verse I found:
""See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every craft." (Exodus 31:2-5, RSV). See also Ex. 35:30-35.
It is obvious from these verses, that God filled these men with His Spirit to accomplish a big job, i.e., to take the detailed instructions He had given Moses on the Mount (Ex. 25:9: Acts 7:44; Heb. 8:5), and translate those into the finished Tabernacle with all its furnishings and coverings. There is nothing here to indicate that they were either immortal or incorruptible. Rather, they were men whom God called to do a job, and as is His promise to us still today, if He calls us to do a job, He will provide the way to do it. Moses was filled with God's Spirit to accomplish the tremendous undertaking of bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt, across Sinai and into the land of promise. He spoke with God "face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex. 33:11). Of him, it was said, "And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face," (Deut. 34:10, RSV). Yet, he was neither incorruptible nor immortal. (See Num. 20:11-12; 27:12-14; and Deut. 34:4-8). He sinned and he died.
In Exodus, Chapters 25-28, you will find the incredibly detailed directions for building the tabernacle and everything in it. The instructions God gave Moses are so precise that it is possible to build an exact replica of it today, and in fact, many study bibles show sketches of what the finished product must have looked like. As I cruised on through these chapters, I came to Chapter 28, where God gave Moses instructions on how the ephod was to be made. The notes in my study Bible say that, "the ephod was a sleeveless vestment worn by the high priest." In Easton's Bible Dictionary, I found this description: "Ephod. Something girt, a sacred vestment worn originally by the high priest (Ex 28:4) afterwards by the ordinary priest (I Sam 22:18) and characteristic of his office (I Sam 2:18,28 14:3). It was worn by Samuel, and also by David (II Sam 6:14). It was made of fine linen, and consisted of two pieces, which hung from the neck, and covered both the back and front, above the tunic and outer garment (Ex 28:31). That of the high priest was embroidered with divers colors. The two pieces were joined together over the shoulders by clasps or buckles of gold or precious stones, and fastened round the waist by a "curious girdle of gold, blue, purple, and fine twined linen" (Ex 28:6-12). The breastplate, with the Urim and Thummim, was attached to the ephod."
Now comes the part that got my juices flowing. Speaking of the priestly garments, God said, "Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions, the work of a skilled craftsman. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen" (Ex. 28:15-30, NIV). What in the world could a breastpiece have to do with making decisions, or as other versions render it, "a breastpiece of judgment," I wondered? As I kept reading, I came to verse 30, which says, "Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord." Urim and Thummim, what a mystery, but whatever it was, it gave the high priest the means of making decisions for the Israelites. However, unlike the Ark of the Covenant, the bronze sea, the candlesticks, the other utensils and the tabernacle itself, there is no description of what the Urim and Thummim looked like. All we know is that it was a gift of God which enabled His people to hear from Him. Today, Christians walking without the Spirit's guidance, always want to know exactly what they have to do, to make, or to be in order to please God, and the more detailed the instructions, the happier they seem to be. Those led of the Spirit know that God has provided us everything we will ever need to walk and walk and talk the talk. In fact, we know that it is Christ living within us who enables us to live as sons of the Most High (Gal. 2:20-21).
The notes for Ex. 38:30, in my NIV Study Bible said about the Urim and Thummim, "The Hebrew for this phrase probably means 'the curses and the perfections.' The Hebrew word Urim begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph) and Thummim begins with the last letter (taw). They were sacred lots and were often used in times of crisis to determine the will of God (See Num. 27:21). It has been suggested that if Urim ("curses") dominated when the lots were cast, the answer was 'no,' but if Thummim ("perfections") dominated it was 'yes.' In any event, their 'every decision' was 'from the Lord'" (Pr. 16:3).
Easton's Bible Dictionary adds this bit of information: "They (the Urim and the Thummim) were probably lost at the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar. They were never seen after the return from captivity."
Originally, the Urim and the Thummim were on the breastpiece, which was worn over the ephod, Aaron's priestly garment, described in Ex. 28:2-24. However in later days, as noted, all the priests wore an ephod, without a breastpiece (I Sam. 22:18), but only the high priest had possession of the Urim. On two occasions, when David was fleeing for his life from the enraged and maniacal King Saul, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring me the ephod" (I Sam. 23:9 and I Sam. 30:7). What he was asking the priest to do was inquire of the Lord as to his best course of action in the face of certain death. Abiathar used the Urim to tell David what he should do in each instance, and each time, the word of the Lord to the priest was accurate. David's life was spared. The significance of this is that even under the Law, which often seems so harsh to those of us living under grace, God made provision for His people to hear from Him, to ask for His will in difficult situations. As I was running these references, I came across a fascinating reference to the Urim in the story of Saul's last battle.
Samuel was dead by this point in time, having anointed David to be Saul's successor, though Saul was still King of Israel. Israel's arch enemy, the Philistines were encamped at Shunem and Saul's troops were encamped at Gilboa. He had a bad feeling about this battle, and the scripture relates, "When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets" (I Samuel 28:5,6, RSV). The study note on this verse says, "Revelation came through the priest (Ex. 28:30), [but] the authentic ephod and its Urim were with Abiathar, who was aligned with David (See 23:2,6,9). David had a prophet, Gad (22:5), but after Samuel's alienation from Saul (15:35), no prophet served Saul." This scarcity of divine prognosticators left poor old Saul out in the rain, so to speak, and like many of us when we either don't hear from the Spirit of the Lord, or don't like what we hear, he turned to his own devices and sought refuge in his natural mind. He broke his own law, having banished mediums, witches, wizards and those with familiar spirits from the land, and God's, for witchcraft was a crime punishable by death under the law God gave Moses (Lev. 20:27). Nevertheless, in his panic and terror, he said to his servants, "Seek out for me a woman who is a medium (witch), that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a medium at Endor" (I Sam. 28:7). The story of how he disguises himself and goes to her to ask her to call up Samuel by means of her familiar spirit, is great drama with all the elements of a Greek tragedy. You can read it in I Sam. 28:7-25. (I could include it here, but one of my readers kindly pointed out that my journals are too long, and she's probably right. So, go on, look it up. You'll be glad you did, and while you're at it, read what happened to Saul and his sons, recorded in I Sam. 31; II Sam. 1:4-12; I Chron. 10:1-12. But be forewarned, the Old Testament is quite addictive. Once you start reading these great stories about heroes of faith, you may not be able to stop. There's better drama here than you can find on any TV channel or movie theater).
As we have noted, the Urim and Thummim were God's provision under the law for His people to hear His voice. The hapless children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fell away from the one true God and began worshipping idols. As a result, God sent His judgment on the nation in the form of enemies who carried them off into captivity, first Israel to Assyria (II Kings 17:6-23) and then Judah to Babylon (II Kings 24 & 25). But through it all, He loved them and everything we read about in the Old Testament was a type and shadow of what is fulfilled in the New Covenant.
During the intertestamental period of some 400 years (432-5 BC), God did not speak to His people at all, neither through prophet, priest, dream or vision. When Jesus left the portals of glory and became clothed in flesh, the spiritual and emotional landscape of Israel was indeed bleak. He flashed across the sin blackened world like a brilliant comet, and Isaiah's prophecy came true: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." (Isaiah 9:2, RSV). In addition to light, He brought the Holy Spirit back into the lives of men and women. Of Jesus, John prophesied, ""I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matthew 3:11, RSV). Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10), and to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He came to reveal the Father heart of God to us, and Jesus remarked, "And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."" ( John 11:22, RSV). This certainly includes the infilling of the Spirit.
Regarding being filled with the Spirit, the Apostle Paul said, "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Romans 8:14, RSV). From these verses and many others I could mention, it is clear that the "normal Christian life," as Watchman Nee would phrase it, includes hearing from God, and being baptized with the Spirit, which means being led of the Spirit. And yet I have noticed over and over again that when I say to some Christians, "The Lord told me this" or "The Lord told me that," they look at me like I might need to up my dosage of Prozac. There is a great deception preached in the land today, which elevates reading the printed bible (logos) above hearing the voice of God (rhema). Our carnal mind can never understand the deep things of God without the Spirit to interpret them (II Cor. 2:10-13).
Just today, one of our readers and friends wrote, "How does one really hear the Voice of God speaking? Is it a still small voice, a confirmation, a gut feeling, a scripture from the Word or what?" Hearing from the Lord seems to be as great a mystery to some as the Urim and Thummim were. And yet, it is a promise of God. Paul admonishes us in Eph. 5:18 to "be filled with the Spirit." Clearly, Jack, the reader who wrote the question mentioned in the beginning of this journal, was confused about what it means to be filled with the Spirit, and he is not alone. From what we've already seen, many people were described as being filled with the Spirit in the bible, including the craftsmen who built the tabernacle, and Moses and Joshua, Samuel and Gideon, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekial, to name just a few. Of John the Baptist, it was said, "he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb" (Lk. 1:15). His mother was also filled with the Spirit, "And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41, RSV). Those who were gathered together on the Day of Pentecost "..were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:4, RSV). Check out these verses for more on being filled with the Spirit: Acts 4:31;9:17; 13:9;13:52. If you'll read I Cor., chapters 12-14, you'll find a detailed account of the manifestations and the gifts of the Spirit and how they are to be used to edify and encourage the church, individually and corporately.
Are you confused about a difficult decision? Ask the Lord. Do you have a nemesis on your premises? Are the Philistines encamped on the mountain across the valley, threatening destruction to you and yours? Ask the Lord about it. The Apostle James said, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him." (James 1:5, RSV). That verse tells us to ask in faith and then accept the answer we receive. When I first came into this awareness that walking in the Spirit is my birthright, I took that verse LITERALLY and one day as I was running down the road, on my daily pursuit of fitness, I said, "Lord, I want to walk by your voice. So, from now on, I'm going to ask you about every decision in my life and the first thing that comes into my mind I'm going to assume is you. If you aren't capable of filtering out the world, the flesh and the devil, then maybe you aren't able to be God." Now, I know that some of you will be trembling in fear and calling for repentance on my part, and my mother will want to smack me, but that's what happened, and He did for me exactly as I had asked of Him. He is my Daddy, after all.
Paul says that the Holy Spirit is the "guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:14). The King James renders the word "guarantee" as "earnest." Let me use a real estate illustration to explain this. When you purchase a property, you write an earnest money deposit check to go along with the contract. This tells the Seller that you are a bona fide buyer, with serious intentions of completing the transaction to purchase his property. During the 28 years of selling real estate in California, we occasionally had a customer who couldn't come up with the earnest money, in which case, we sent him home to get it or save up for it. In other words, we told him to "get real." To go to a Seller without a check is wasting everyone's time. The earnest money deposit is not the down payment, nor the entire purchase price. It is a gesture of good faith by the Buyer.
By the same token, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we receive the guarantee that in God's time and at His direction, we will receive our entire inheritance, including our immortality and incorruptibility. God understands that we need something to hang onto until He fully manifests Himself in our lives. Without the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth (Jn. 16:13; I Jn. 2:27), we, like Saul, are at the mercy of the darkness of the carnal mind. Only the spirit of God knows the deep things of God (I Cor. 2:10). The good news Paul says is this: "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit." (I Cor. 2:12,13, RSV). Without the Spirit of God operating in our lives, we would all end up on the doorstep of the witch of Endor and the result is always disastrous for us, as it was for Saul. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight" (Prov. 3:5, RSV), is standard operating procedure for the child of God.
Not only we, but the entire creation is waiting to receive our promised full inheritance from God. "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom. 8:19-21, RSV) And how will we know when that day comes? I can assure you that we won't need an e-mail, fax, phone call, or other media bulletin to tell us. Paul says, "and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Rom. 8:23, RSV). When we experience the redemption of our bodies, we can rejoice, because that is a huge portion of our inheritance. Many of us have come to believe that we won't have to die to get there.
Paul describes this tremendous spiritual event in earthly terms: "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee" (II Corinthians 5:1-5, RSV). Like I said, many of us believe we won't have to die to receive our inheritance and be filled with all the fulness of God (Eph. 3:19). Paul believed that as well, for he says, "Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," (I Cor. 15:51, RSV). When our corruptible bodies have put on incorruption and our mortal flesh has become immortal, then will we see that "Death is swallowed up in victory" (15: 54). Then we will rejoice, ""O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?"" (I Cor. 15:55, RSV). Death is the last enemy to be put under Jesus' feet (I Cor. 15:26). I want to be very clear that He triumphed over death at the cross (Heb. 2:14), but still we wait for the manifestation of it to be fully accomplished in time and in flesh. What a glorious day it will be when we experience the restitution of all things, beginning with our physical bodies.
When the sons are manifested by the Father in time and in flesh, all over the planet, the body of Christ will be joined experientially to Christ our head and we will rise up to take authority over sin, sickness, and all works of the evil one. "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" (Zech. 9:10, KJV). On that glorious day, those who went before, who "died in faith, not having received the promises" (Heb. 11:13), will be joined with us to the glory of God the Father. On that day, Isaiah's prophesy will come to pass: "Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."" (Isa. 40:4,5, RSV).
Lord, haste the day. So let it be written, so let it be done in our lives.
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850
The Glory Road
More Old Testament studies:
"Written in Blood"
"The Blood Covenant"
"From Glory to Glory"
We always enjoy hearing from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 2/12/01
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister
and last edited on 10/7/08.